One More Sacred Shrine Lost
Hapless Kashmir Mourns Helplessly!
One more venerated shrine of ours is razed. One more architectural marvel gutted. One more spectacular structure set alight. Once more we are being deprived of our rich cultural heritage; symbol of our collective faith; sense of history; and one of our most valued edifices. This time around, it is the renowned structure and shrine built in the sheer respect of great Sufi Saint Sheikh Syed Abdul Qadir Jeelani, popularly known as ‘Peer Dastageer Sahib’ in Kashmir, which we saw in frightening flames. Who is responsible for this criminal negligence? Why does it happen time and again? Why?
Kashmir is mourning this irreparable loss. Muslims are in tears. Pandits are in tears. Sikhs are in tears. Kashmiris are in tears. All of us are mourning; wailing; and bereaved. And rightly so!
In May 1995, a two-month-long confrontation between the militants (both Kashmiri as well as foreign) and the Indian army at the renowned town of ‘Chrar-e-Shareef’ in Badgam district of Kashmir ended in a catastrophe. The tomb of most revered Kashmiri Saint Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani, widely known as ‘Alamdaar-e-Kashmir’ and ‘Nund Reshi’, and the shrine built in his memory there was set alight in mysterious circumstances. Seventeen long years down the line, Kashmir is yet to figure out what had actually happened there. Like many other tragedies, this too is our collective tragedy. We have too many conspiracy theories; very few answers; and sadly; even fewer facts.
In December 1963, as our historians inform us, the holy relic from Hazratbal (‘Dargah’) shrine in Srinagar was stolen in baffling and inexplicable conditions. Obviously, the incident of the theft of the holy relic led to massive mass upsurge and widespread protests in almost every nook and corner of the Kashmir Valley then. The whole of Kashmir was on the streets; mourning this beyond repair loss! It is being widely believed that late Mirwaiz Molvi Mohammad Farooq, father of the present head priest Molvi Umar Farooq, launched his political career by leading the agitation then. Nearly 50 years, five decades that is, Kashmiris are still unsure about what had actually happened and why? Such is our tragedy!
And here we are, in 2012, mourning another irretrievable loss. Let’s grieve over this loss; maturely and peacefully. We not only have to mourn this loss of ours but also our inability to protect one of our most sacred shrines; cultural heritage; symbol of faith, and architectural spectacle. Some say that the shrine of ‘Peer Dastageer Sahib’ had been built 200 years back. Most probably in the 11th century, Sheikh Syed Abdul Qadir Jeelani had come to Kashmir all the way from ‘Gilan’ province of Persia (Iran) to preach. The scholarly saint Syed Abdul Qadir Jeelani was soon referred to as ‘Gaus-ul-Azam Dastageer’ in Kashmir. Kashmir’s ‘Gaus-ul-Azam Dastageer’ is buried in a shrine in Iraqi capital, Baghdad.
Hazratbal Dargah. Chrar-e-Shareef. Dastageer Sahib. And some more shrines. One after another, our sacred shrines and sacrosanct spectacular structures are gutted. And all of us are feeling completely helpless. As if we have lost the capacity to protect. As if we have become immune to such losses. As if we no more deserve having and owning them with pride. As if Kashmir is no more an alcove of ‘Sufis and Saints’ (‘Pir Waer’).
Why is this happening to us? Who is responsible? Why are we being deprived of our rich cultural heritage?
Like the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir N N Vohra and State’s boss Omar Abdullah, two important cabinet ministers, Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather and agriculture minister Ghulam Hassan Mir, have expressed their grief over the fire incident. Both these gentlemen have also expressed “great satisfaction” that the holy relics and rare Quranic manuscripts at ‘Dastageer Sahib’ Shrine have been saved. It is baffling to believe them. Yet it is difficult to doubt them.
Let's remain peaceful and defy every attempt being made to divide and confuse us. Nefarious designs of "paid agents", very few in number, must not define lives of us all, Kashmiris. The custodians of ‘Dastgeer Sahib’ Shrine must definitely be held accountable. Their job is not only to tie turbans of turn-coat politicians on ‘Urs’. But who actually owes an explanation and who must apologize is a million dollar question?
On the other hand, pro-resistance forces in Kashmir have called for a complete shutdown in protest against the unfortunate incident. Meanwhile, the safety methods, which should ideally have been in place at such important places of our heritage and faith, seem to vanish into thin air. When it comes to protecting our symbols of identity, the venerated edifices; our revered shrines, which actually define who we are, nothing seems to be working; not even common sense at times! Most unfortunate!
People are absolutely right in questioning that why aren’t there “fire suppression systems” installed in these marvellous and spectacular structures when millions of dollars are being spent to ensure tulips bloom in time, to attract tourists in large numbers, to raise the hospitality standards at the star hotels; to ferry chief minister’s guests in choppers; and to aver that peace has arrived in Kashmir in deceptive calm times? Common sense seems conspicuous by absence.
Questions are many. Answers are few.
And by the way, how many wake-up calls do we require? This, most definitely, is not the first one. Let’s hope it is the last one!
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Lastupdate on : Tue, 26 Jun 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 26 Jun 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 27 Jun 2012 00:00:00 IST
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